ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit

Life ever stops. Mixing bikes, research and work is my challenge AND my pleasure – as regular readers well know! As a change from our usual bike posts, this post is a little indulgent academic wankery. It has been a very busy week with my new 10-week course starting, a 4-day family trip and a 3-day conference to attend – among other things. Now that peak crazy period has passed, here’s an update of the RE4D Summit (conference) that has been the focus for this week. Cheers! NG.


Earlier this week I attended and presented at the ReImagining Education for Democracy (RE4D) Summit.

It was the first time I have attended this conference and I was very impressed.

To get details of each session – here is the Conference Program.

Essentially this conference uses Critical Pedagogy perspectives to unpack and explore aspects of contemporary education research, policy and practice that are complex and challenging.

The Summit has a strong political undercurrent with sessions wrestling with issues such as globalisation, the role of the state and markets, technocratic models of education and how equity, access, fairness and social justice are being addressed in schools and within wider educational dynamics and systems.

So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?

This event was an awesome 3-day conference that covered an wide range of education policy, process and practice. There were 5 keynote speakers, a free public lecture, and event called Pedagogy in the Pub, and over 80 presentations in the form of symposiums, focus panels, individual research papers and workshops.

I was impressed with the range and scope of the presentations. You can always tell a good conference when you are conflicted about what session to go to for fear of missing out on the session you miss.

Here’s the abstract for our symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

My Presentation

My presentation was part of a symposium of 3 other presenters.

As a group we had developed the symposium abstract and each of us contributed a differing perspective to our main contention.

We decided to go for the practical, for the personal and for the challenging.

Unfornatuntely, on the day one of our speakers (Ian) could not make it, so we were missing the male perspective, but it also meant that we had more time.

Our presentation was awesome.

We had a great topic and some really interesting and unique expreinces and difficulties to share.

Naomi started us off by presenting her experience of being a mother whilst doing her PhD to tease out some key political and neoliberalist tensions. Sherilyn followed up with a little more methodological view to processing some key transformative ‘moments’ she had during her work disrupting educational and social structures within in her own local community.

Then I ended by outlining some of the practical ‘shadows, cracks and hauntings’ that I have experienced in my work and telling 6 stories that hit at the heart of practicing gender justice.

This format worked really well and the session was a pleasure to be part of. The build-up and layering of ideas from one presentation to the next was strategic and served well to show the individual, dynamic and complex nature of the work we do as well.

I told a few stories that I have not told before and had put a lot of thought into what I wanted to say and what content (or stories) to include.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Here’s my abstract for my session for the symposium:

Nina Ginsberg. ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Did I mention that Prof. Michael Apple, his wife Rima and Prof. Pat Thomson from the academic blog Patter (among others) attended my presentation? Talk about a big gun audience!

Following the symposium, I had a number of audience members come up and say how much they enjoyed it – which was very affirming!

I was touched when one woman said that she was very moved by the stories and that my presentations really made her think. She said it was so important to share stories of when things go wrong and to acknowledge that there are dark sides to research, researchers and researching – and I agree!

As a final boost, I was stoked when a friend sent me through this Twitter post that was uploaded from an audience member I’d never met before.

ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

One final thought about the Summit…. Prof. Michael Apple

Prof. Michael Apple

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

Listening to, and meeting Prof Apple was a real highlight for me.

It was so refreshing to hear his keynote speech on the second day, least of all because it was jammed pack full of provocative ideas. His topic was Can education change society and I was struck by his eloquence and skill as a public speaker. It was truly a pleasure to listen to his educated arguments. He is a consummate orator and gifted storyteller -and a delight to listen to.

To often keynotes are generic, pussy-footing-dont-want-to-upset-too-many-people-or-prensent-anything-too-controversial. But, Prof Apple went there, giving his ideas on some pretty tricky issues – which was great as it meant you knew exactly what he thought and could agree or disagree with it. So suddenly – hey, presto you have a conversation! Awesome! Thats what a conference is all about after all!

Before the conference, I wasn’t fully aware of who he was and I didn’t fully appreciate the immense impact and influence he has within the field of Education and Critical Pedagogy.

Turns out he is one of the fifty most important educational scholars of the 20th Century and one of the ‘first fathers’ that established this field of inquiry and was a contemporary of Paulo Feire and Basil Bernstein – a big deal in my circles.

And, after following up on some of the things he mentioned and finding out more about his about his amazing political commitment to progressing educational and social/cultural activism, I am now a big fan.

Prof. Michael Apple has written widely on educational and social activism with the most recent being his article Critical educational reforms and dirty toilets: being honest about blockages and contradictions for AARE – a very interesting read indeed (especially given some of the ensuing comments).

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference! See you there!


To give you an idea of the topics covered, below is the 2017 schedule:

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create ChangeReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

ReImaging Education for Democracy Summit - Bicycles Create Change

More info please!

The website Rage and Hope gives a great overview of the key thinkers of Critical Pedagogy.

For more details on the main thrust, debates and foci of the Critical Pedagogy movement, Aliakbari and Faraji (2011) Basic Principles of Critical Pedagogy is a clear and easy read to get the basic principles and concepts of what Critical Pedagogy is all about and how it is related to education, politics and society.

Recommended for PhD Confirmation

PhD Confirmation happens about 1.5 years into your research. It is a major milestone to check you are on track before you go out for data collection. Essentially, it is a pass or fail milestone – but they don’t actually say it like that, they call it ‘recommend to continue’ (pass) or ‘recommend to revise’ (fail).

After the candidate gives their 30-mins presentation, there is an open Q & A. Then everyone (including the candidate) is asked to leave and the panel (your supervisors, the HDR Convenor and your independent assessor) discuss the work in private. Then only the candidate is invited back in. Then, in private the panel give immediate feedback on the study and the presentation and let the candidate know if they are recommending for continuation or not.

On Friday I had my PhD Confirmation Seminar

PhD Confirmation is a big deal as it is the first time you show your research to anyone outside of your supervisory team. It is where you have to submit you first 4 dissertation chapters (Intro, Lit Review Theoretical Perspectives and Methodology). My first 4 chapters comes to 191 pages and 50,718 words. Two weeks after you submit your Confirmation paper, you present your work.

So on Friday, I  presented my PhD Confirmation seminar to explain, justify and defend my bicycle NGO research study.

Here’s my PhD Confirmation flyer.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create ChangeA Successful Seminar! Recommended for PhD Confirmation!

I’ve been recommended to proceed with my study!

It was a very stressful and interesting process putting the seminar together. Big decisions  had to be made about what to leave in and what to leave out.

My study is pretty complex, but I managed to get it all organised on the day.

The seminar itself went well. There was a great turn out and it had the largest attendance to date! While waiting for the seminar to start, the audience started singing The Pushbike Song, which boosted the energy in the room instead of being so formal and academic (which it was) and made me feel very supported. There were some good questions at the end from the audience at the end, which I was able to answer and had slides prepared for (phew!) to the point where the questions almost looked like a plant (they weren’t!).

I got called back in and was asked the difficult questions in private. No surprises in the immediate feedback I received. The study will need more shaping and ‘massaging’ and I already have a few other ideas I’d like to change and discuss with my supervisors.

I get the Confirmation reports from my panel back in 1-2 weeks.

I’m very interested to hear the feedback!

The panel has recommended me for PhD Confirmation! Yahoo!

This recommendation goes to the Dean of School of Education & Professional Studies to be approved. It is rare that a panel’s recommendation is overturned, but I still have to wait for the official approval from the Dean.

Bike PhD Confirmation- Bicycles Create Change

I was completely wiped out at the end of the seminar.

For the last 4 weeks, it has been a massive big push to get my Confirmation paper prepared and then to arrange  the seminar.

My brain is officially mush.

I am happy with the result, but too tired to celebrate just yet.

My main task over the weekend is to have a glass of red wine while reading a good book in the bath – and recharge!

PhD Confirmation Paper

Hooray!

Finally!

I’ve handed in my PhD Confirmation Paper!

Looking forward to hearing what the independent assessor says about my 4 Chapters….Intro, Lit Review, Theoretical Perspectives & Methodology.

It was a missive big push to have it all done….I keep reminding my supervisors that I am Part-Time researcher. Also, that I only want to do one PhD at a time (…bad joke – but true!!)

Thanks to Deniese, Annalise, TK and all the others who helped during this time – I will not forget you!

Woohooow!

Bicycles Create Change.com

Now time to start on my 30-mins Confirmation Seminar for next Friday!

My eyes are sore, my brain is mush and I am (almost) to knackered to celebrate!

It does feel quite surreal to see it all not the one document  -with all the fancy referencing, formatting, images and sections.

Why do the PhD  Confirmation procedure?

At my uni – this is why you need to do a PhD Confirmation. It allows:

  • provide peer feedback to the candidate on the work completed to date through open discussion of the candidate’s research proposal
  • provide confirmation that the project is appropriate to the degree for which the candidate is enrolled
  • determine whether a candidate has made suitable progress during the initial stage of the candidature
  • ensure that adequate resources and facilities are available
  • confirm that satisfactory supervision arrangements are in place
  • identify any specific problems or issues (for example, ethics or intellectual property) needing to be addressed; and
  • determine whether the candidature should continue.

What does a PhD Confirmation paper include?

Here what my Uni requires for Confirmation papers:

  • the research question
  • where the question came from in the context of relevant literature
  • why the research question is important
  • how the research question is addressed including details of methodology
  • a bibliography of relevant literature
  • progress made to date; and
  • a timetable for completing the research
  • needs to be a summary 40 pages – or as instructed by your supervisor.

My supervisor said, don’t waste time condensing and editing a separate document, hand in the whole  first four chapters! So I did!

Why do my PhD in Africa? Give us a little taster!

I still get people asking me why my research on girls’ education is in Africa.

It’s  because that is were some of the most disadvantaged girls are.

The red areas on the map below show the most disadvantaged areas for girls education.

Bicycles Create Change.com

My PhD is at the intersection of education, poverty, culture, gender and location.

Bicycles Create Change.com

Aspects of gendered daily school travel, transport and mobility are key themes in my research.

Bicycles Create Change.comSource; Bryceson, Bradbury & Bradbury (2003).

I’ll be able to outline more once my Confirmation Seminar flyer comes out.

For now, I  very pleased to have handed in – but am also very tired,

Fingers crossed for me, and the Independent Assessor!!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review

As I gear up for my PhD Confirmation paper submission on Friday, all thoughts are now academic. My PhD is looking at how bicycles create more positive community change and this post gives a quick overview of an academic skills workshop I attended earlier this week that will help me explain and distribute my research more widely. Viva la bici! NG.


A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review

How to write a kick-ass Literature Review? Need a publication? How about conducting a SQLR? Never heard of it?

A SQLR is a Systematic Quantitative Literature Review – it is where the best Lit Reviews are at! The SQLR technique was devised by Prof. Pickering (Griffith University School of Environmental Science) …. and it is amazing!

Here’s a quick snapshot of what it is… On the offical SQLR website it is described as..

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

I won’t go into details about what is is here – there are some fabulous resources online here and  a series of very clear step-by-step video instructions here that explains the process better than I can.

Suffice to say that it is a kick-ass way to get a comprehensive lit review completed AS WELL AS  being able to publish it.

SQLR publications are still relatively new and more often used in science disciplines. There are a few SQLR starting to crop up in the social sciences, so it is a good time to get in, as scholarly interest is increasing – and you can leverage the ‘novel’, yet comprehensive contribution it provides to a research field.

For theses, you need to do a thorough lit review anyway, so why not do a super good job of it AND get published?

Don’t get me wrong; it is a serious undertaking and hard work, but… oh so worth it!

My SQLR problem
I did a SQLR as part of my lit review. You need at minimum 15 articles to do a SQLR. Even with the help of librarians, I only found 12 publications specifically on my topic. Crap!

This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it means my area is emerging and requires scholarly attention (i.e. justification of my PhD!!). But it’s also a curse because there is insufficient evidence and breadth to establish generalizations or to formulate a theoretical framework purely based on previous work.

So I went to the Advancing SQLR session to see what my options were.

Boy, am I happy I did. Prof. Pickering sure packed a lot into the one-hour session!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

Top 4 takeaways from this session.

1. Questions = Answers!
I had prepared questions ahead of time and I didn’t waste any time asking them. My hand was first up, and I was very appreciative that the Prof answered them directly and clearly. I got exactly the info I needed. As well as asking questions directly related to aspects of my project, I was also sure to reiterate the answers back so there were transferrable elements and general practicalities that would be applicable to other students as well.

2. Concrete examples
The PPT and handout provided included heaps of concrete examples of next-generation ideas, explanations/justifications and development techniques to include to maximise publication possibilities. See some of the examples at the end of this post – Unbeatable!

3. Analysis Inspiration
I was inspired by the ‘advanced’ level and types of analysis Prof. Pickering presented. It truly was ‘advancing’ the process on the original SQLR session. It was great to see to what degree, and the types of creative analysis that is being drawn out of SQLR data.

It was at this stage that I got some specific idea on how to meet my minimum source quotas to exceed my current 12, which the Prof. also confirmed in more detail during Q & A– woohoo!

4. The infuriating 3rd Reviewer (or in this case the in-FUHRER-iating)
As the session drew to a close, the conversation turned to getting published. One of the biggest headaches and sources of stress and anger for scholarly authors is the infamous ‘3rd reviewer’.

In response to dealing with the frustration of getting 3rd review feedback, the Prof. recommended the video below – Bloody GOLD!

(The quality is not 100%, but well worth it for the relief it brings!)

Add my own practical visual data 2 cents!

Overall I was very glad that I went to the session.

During Q & A, I offered my top picks of the most useful and relatively easy to use free (or free trial/nominal fee) design software programs that others might want to check out if they want to might want to spice up their text-heavy work and present data in a more engaging way.

Prof. Pickering appreciated the practical suggestions. She asked me to email her what my suggestions were. I also had a few attendees ask me afterwards for the names of the programs.

I felt good that I contributed something valuable for my cohort as well as getting exactly what I needed out of the session!

Now to apply it all!

Now, I need to get back to work and  look at how I’m going to integrate this into my Confirmation paper.

If you are doing any kind of research, I highly recommend checking out SQLR as a lit review methodology.

Best of luck and let me know how you get on with it!

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. PickeringA Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. Pickering

A Kick-Ass PhD Lit Review - Bicycles Create Change.com Source: Prof. PickeringImages: Prof. Pickering Advancing SQLR Handout.

Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocalypse

Usually this blog features events, initiative and personalities where bicycles create positive community change. At times, I also include some researcher aspects to do with my PhD study. This is one such instance.

Departing from our usual bicycle centred posts, the next couple of entries are PhD-orientated as I prepare my PhD Confirmation submission for next Friday. And yes…. I am freaking out! NG.


Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse. Image: PhD Comics

Academic Overload

I’m preparing my PhD Confirmation paper for submission next Friday. Two weeks later I will defend my thesis in my PhD Confirmation seminar.

As you can imagine it has been very busy and somewhat stressful time.

I’ve found myself in the middle of academic overload! I feel like I am in the middle of an Academic Zombie Apocalypse!

Good grief!

The fortnight lead-in was intense anyway. Trimester at uni ended last week. Last Thursday I finished semester classes and said goodbye and good luck to my two Communication and Languages for Science classes and my HDR Writing Workshop, which, I think is ironic given my current stress round my Confirmation submission! Hilarious!

Also, last Friday I finished marking the last of 48 final report assessments for my class. This week all the paperwork, reporting, feedback, blah, blah… you get the picture!

You can see what my classes have been up to on Instagram account at: @nina_griffith_uni    #nina5903   #ninahdrwritingwksp   #eps_hdr

Anyhoo…

Finally, I thought…. now I’ll have concentrated time to ‘catch up’ preparing my submission.

Alas, not quite.

Added to this crazy time has been a convergence of workshops (see next posts). Each of these workshops is interesting and useful, but the timing is very awkward. I still have a lot to do on my paper. All I can think is that I need to be at my desk, all day every day, working on my manuscript.

It seems like I can’t escape! I need to get away!!!

Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocalypse

Image: The Conversation

I am hiding inside, not risking to venture out. I squirrel around at odd hours and lock myself up at night. I have my equipment with me at all times, and bury myself in my work and try and disappear from sight, not making a sound. When someone approaches me, I get nervous, suspicious, and cry out ‘What do you want! Stay away from me!’

It is a very appropriate metaphor. If I had less brain drain, I’d ‘flesh out’ the idea out (tee hee) but I am conserving synapses for Friday.

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse.

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse

Image: kids-army

Academic zombie apocalypse survival kit

Taking inspiration from other zombie survival kits – I’m working on developing my own academic zombie apocalypse survival kit.

I quickly vox popped some academics & PhDers for ideas on what they would include/do/have for this busy time. Here are their suggestions:

  • laptop
  • key journal articles printed out
  • trashy pulp fiction book for mental breaks
  • coffee
  • Sudafed
  • exercise
  • a critical (about work, not you!) and a non-critical friend to talk to
  • good nutritious food
  • a short holiday at the end to look forward to
  • downtime away from communications and electronic devices
  • limit of one drink per week/no drinking alcohol during this time
  • connect with meaningful other/partner
  • designated office space for undisturbed time to work
  • thinking time away from the office (sitting on a bus looking out a window)
  • hot showers
  • good poos
  • sleep

Certainly, a lot less ammo than I expectedl!

I’m going to keep the survival kit idea handy – just in case.

But  the mere act of just talking about starting a academic zombie  apocalypse survival kit has already made me feel a little better.

I think I might go to the office and smash out some more writing for my Confirmation paper!

See ya soon!

Bicycles Create Change.com. Beware! The Academic Zombie Apocolypse. Image: The bestschools.orgImage: : thebestschools.org

James Novak – World’s first 3D printed bicycle

 

Two days ago, I went to the Griffith University AEL (Arts Education and Law) school final heat for the 3MT Competition.

There were 10 PhD candidates presenting – but one stood out for me.

James Novak is a Griffith University design graduate and is currently undertaking his PhD.

He was presenting his 3MT on his 4D pro-cycling helmet. It was very interesting to hear how this helmet functions differently in relation to how  technology, engineering and design features use sensors to automatically respond to rider needs for air flow, temperature control and areodynamicism.

After James had presented, I saw signage for the AEL School to the side of the stage.

One of the pictures on it was a bicycle frame (see below). I was already chuffed that there was a presentation on bikes/cycling being the focus of PhD research and though it was schewing my view of reality.  I turned to my friend and said “I see bicycles everywhere!” With James’ presentation still fresh in my mind, I quickly jumped online to see why the bike was featured on the poster.

Well, imagine my surprise when I find out that the bike is also one of James’ designs – and more so, that it was the world’s first 3D printed bike!

 

Bicycles Create Change - James Novak - 3D Printed bike

Background: James’ Previous work

Previously, James has worked on the Gold Coasts’ Q1’s Skywalk and the new MagnaLatch Safety Pool – which was a finalist in the Good Design Awards and is now a product we are all familiar with.

He also has a range of other concepts, products, designs and prototypes that he has been working on- which you can see on on his blog Edditive Blog.

To name just to name a few!

His blog also has tutorials and free downloads and when I spoke to him after his presentation, he was really keen on sharing, and exchanging information – which is something that he genuinely supports as evidenced through on his blog. You can also see more of his work on Instagram @edditive.

Click here to download a PDF with more info: The 3D Printed Bike – James Novak

James Novak – World’s first 3D printed bicycle

Prior to his 4D cycling helmet, James had already been extending engineering and design applications by utilising 3D printing to produce the world’s first  3D printed bicycle.

James Novak - 3D Printed bike
James Novak. Image courtesy of Griffith University.

James created this bike in 2014 and it has exhibited in Australia and overseas and in 2015. He was also awarded the prestigious Dick Aubin Distinguished Paper Award at the RAPID conference (Los Angeles) which is the world’s leading 3D printing industry event.

How did he do it?

 The process of making the 2014 bike: “What does it takes to 3D print a large and complex object like this? Although he spent about 150 hours modeling the item in 3D on SolidWorks over a couple of weeks, he says modeling wasn’t the most difficult part of his 4-month project. According to James, what has taken the most time and energy was actually discovering what’s possible with 3D printing, understanding the limitations of this new manufacturing tool, and re-imagining the concept of the bike frame. For making things easier, James decided to print his design via our (i.materialise) professional online 3D printing service. After the bike frame was 3D printed in mammoth resin through i.materialise, the item was exhibited at a seminar in Brisbane, Australia this past July (2014)”.

James Novak - 3D Printed bike
Image: i.materialize
James Novak - 3D Printed bike
I love how he has incorporated his name into the frame – super personalised!! Image: i.materialize

The bike is custom designed specifically to James’  body dimensions and preferences.

HIs bike is a prototype and not yet ridable, but by designing and producing the bike, it invites future explorations and developments to work towards producing a fully functioning bike.  It’s what I like to call a ‘gateway innovation’!

To this end, James’ view is that “3D printing has changed a whole range of manufacturing areas, but cycling is really interesting. The shape of the bike hasn’t changed a lot over the last 100 years, but everything else can be rethought and re-designed to take advantage of 3D printing technology.  As 3D printing allows you to create one-off products, a design can be made specifically for a particular athlete. In the next few years, I imagine we’ll be printing this bike in titanium, or carbon fibre, and I’ll be the first one riding it down the street!”

It seems that James’ prediction for subsequent innovations have come true. Since Jame’s original 2014 innovation, there have been a number other ‘world first 3D printed bicycles’ – but each has a different aspect, such the 2015 world’s first titanium alloy 3D printed mountain bike. Or more recent road bikes developments such as the 3D printed road bike using 3D printing welding process or using different materials such as the 3d printed stainless steel bicycle – both of which came out last year (2016).

In discussing his bike and the video (1′ 56”) below, he also posted that “A lot of people look at me with a mixture of excitement and confusion when I tell them what I do for work, probably because it sounds a bit futuristic and weird. And it is! But hopefully this profile video prepared by Griffith University and the Gold Coast City Council will explain things a little better than I can, featuring my FIX3D Bike 3D printed by Materialise. I always get a kick from sharing my knowledge of 3D printing with kids still in school since it is really going to affect their lives in the most exciting ways; hopefully videos like this can inspire them to take up the careers of the future.”

What about future 3D Printing of bike frames?

As it is still in its infancy, the materials being used are very traditional like resin, plastics and metals. I’m very keen to see how the new generation of 3D printing materials could incorporate (more) sustainable materials into this space to explore how 3D printing bike frames can minimise wastage and demands on resources.

I’d be excited to see a 3D printed bike made of PLA, which is a sugar-derived polymer (for which other ‘green products’ have already been made and are in current world-wide usage and are “compostable” and “made from corn”). Could PLA be stable, durable and strong enough for a bike frame? If not PLA, then what other green material could be utilised?

If this could be accomplished, it would put a new spin on of my fav rainy day road riding  quips – whereby if a friend says they won’t ride in the rain, my retort is “Your bike is not made of sugar, it is not going to dissolve in the rain! Lets ride!” – I hope I may have to change this adage accomodate future 3D printing inclusion of sustainable material innovations!

Ah, the future of 3D printed bike frames looms!

Reflection on 3DS

Last week I returned from the 3 Day Start-Up intensive.

This event ran 40 Griffith PhD candidates through an entrepreneurial practical intensive on how to develop a start-up business.

I needed a little time between the 3DS event and posting about it to decompress, recharge and digest all that went on – and I am glad I did.

It certainly ‘intensive’. The actual content and structure was well thought out and very useful, the challenge was in the level of input and quality of work you wanted to achieve. This plus an added pressure of going market research, having a round-robin of mentors consult with you as you are preparing a pitch and the overall organising, synthesising and production of a real-time sales pitch with a team that you have never met before – (*phew*).

3DS – 5 Reflections

Rather than giving you everything that happened, here are the top 5 things I got out of the whole experience:

1. Working with a new team on developing my Campus Bike Start-up idea.

After a few warm-up activities, the room was invited to come up and pitch an idea for a possible business. There were about 25-30 ideas. In the spirit of participation, I contributed an idea called Campus Bike. We then had an anonymous vote for the best 6 to carry on developing for the rest of the course through to final investor pitch. There were some great ideas. So imagine my surprise when Campus Bike was voted as a finalist. Campus Bike ended up with a team of 5, of which I was the (un)official manager.

Managing this team (and myself) for the duration of the intensive was challenging, interesting, rewarding and surprising for a number of reasons. I got a lot out of working with my team, and learn a lot about working with new people (what worked and what didn’t) as well as reaffirming some home truths about dynamics, management, goal setting, leadership and individual/group effectiveness.

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

 

2. Useful frameworks
The Lean Canvas was a preparation framework that was presented to us on the first night as a way of starting to distill and tease out our start-up idea into more detail. As a structure fanatic and a big fan of using visual organisers to clarify complex ideas and document progress, I liked this model. It is easy to use, comprehensive, helped focus our team and meant that we had a clear out line of considerations. It was a very effective tool and once completed, we received feedback we could the incorporate and develop in next stage ideation.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

3. Environs
I was surprised at how affected I was by the environs. It was held at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in a large room of 40 people (most I did not know), run by American Facilitators, had long hours (9 am – 10 pm, food was provided, but you work while you eat) and was a very energy/concentration intensive process (including added daily peaks in extra stress for pitch prep and presentation). I was also staying at a colleague’s house, (which was so lovely, but not my normal home and bed), so I did not sleep well at all.

I was away from my usual productive morning routine and was grumpy for not being able to have my bike to go for a ride and release some tension and get some fresh air for three days. Combined with being run down, overtired to start with, having some serious IT issues and complications with PhD and one of my classes back in Brisbane, meant that I was most certainly not in prime form. In recognising this, I made some significant changes to my approach to make sure I minimised stressors and was able to monitor myself physically, emotionally and mentally. But it was a big ask and pretty draining – so I learnt quite a bit about managing myself in challenging and new environs and what was okay and what was not. It was a great reminder and I welcomed the challenge to my character – good to know I can keep it together when I am not 100%!

4. Working the pitches

I gained a lot of insights and ideas watching my group and the others work on – and develop – their start-up ideas as a progression over time. At the end of each day, we pitched. This  meant that you could see the development of the idea and what decisions, changes, embellishments and omissions were made. I found this fascinating to watch.

As a teacher, I am curious about the learning process and seeing how each pitch morphed and changed – sometimes positively, sometimes not. I found these changes to be super revealing. It showed not just about what worked, or how to apply the process/business concepts we were being exposed to, but more interestingly, it divulged more about the team members themselves and how they interpreted and integrated new content.

3DS

Source: Running Lean by Ash Maurya (p18)

5. Motivated to initiate a start up
I was super impressed with the logistic and coordination for this event. Each day we had teams of local business people, entrepreneurs, advisors and mentors streaming in and out – all with super interesting ideas, suggestions, insights and advice. The mentor consultations were invaluable. The quality of guidance and depth of knowledge was excellent. Our discussions were constructive, and the mentor’s input pushed us to consider ideas that we had not previously accounted for.

It reminded me of my time working in business in Sydney and what a buzz it can be working with like-minded passionate entrepreneurial – it was very energising to get a taste of that again. The event also served its purpose of encouraging the PhD cohort present to see start-up business as a very viable opportunity.

I consider this event to be a success. It was hard work but was also a very useful experience. I was impressed with my team and the other teams as well. The organisers did a terrific job of managing the time, content and mentors – kudos and thanks!

As a clincher, I found out after we had finished that 3 out of the 6 teams have decided to go ahead with their business idea that they had been working on and will be actually taking their idea to market. Awesome!!

 

Bicycles Create Change 3DS

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

So many good bike conferences in 2017….

There are a number of bike-related conferences coming this year that I would love to attend.

This year is the 200 year birthday of the modern bicycle, so I feel an extra special pull to get together with other like-minded bike enthusiasts and celebrate our common love of all things two-wheeled.

Outside of sports and pro-cycling meets, there are two main conferences this year that have caught my eye.

Asia Pacific Cycle Congress

The first is the Asia Pacific Cycle Congress to be held in Christchurch, (NZ), 17-20th October, 2017.

Mike Lloyd, a NZ academic who has published a couple of papers analysing a well-known mountain bike rage incident and then subsequently reviewed the same scenario from a mirco-sociological video analysis stand-point, reminded me about this conference.

I would love to go to this one, but have a prior date booked that overlaps, so will have to hold onto this one for next year. Plus I will be post PhD confirmation by then, which means the Uni will pay for me to go! Woppee!

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference

The second conference is the Australian Walking and Cycling Conference. This is being held on 17-18th July in Adelaide, Australia. Their website boasts that:

The simple acts of walking and cycling have the potential to transform the places we live, our economies and how we engage with our environment. The Australian Walking and Cycling Conference, to be held in Adelaide on 17-18 July 2017, explores the potential for walking and cycling to not only provide for transport and recreation but solutions to challenges of liveability, health, community building, economic development and sustainability.

The conference theme is Low tech movement in a high tech world.

After handing in my PhD Early Candidature Milestone Report last month, I am keen to take a step back from the theoretical, conceptual realm of ideas and connect back with one of the primary reasons I started my research – making positive community connections.

So I applied to this conference to do a Learnshop session based on some past Bicycles Create Change events.

I am planning a fun and interesting session – so fingers crossed!

Here is the abstract I submitted (parallelism much?!).

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference 2017

Student engineer experiments with bicycles

As a teacher, I have many different experiences in the classroom, some challenging, some unusual, but most are very rewarding.

I am currently working on my favourite program at Griffith University, 5903LHS Language and Communication for Sciences. This course is only for international students but combines all the Science disciplines into one class to improve language, knowledge and communication skills required for science-based study and practice in their discipline.

That means my class has students from IT, Engineers, Biomedical, Environment, Planning and Architecture and Natural Sciences, Aviation and all the hard sciences as well (Marine, Biology, Chemistry, Forensic Science, Mathematics etc) which I relish!

Even though I know there are engineers in my class, I was still happily surprised when during a class discussion, one female engineering student, Win, casually mentioned that she had previously worked on a project looking how the weight of wheels affected the performance of a bicycle. I was stoked!

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles for Science/English report

Win told me about her report (which you can read below). Essentially, it focuses on testing the impact of wheel weight for a bicycle travelling uphill. This report was an assessment to demonstrate her understanding of scientific principles to a practical situation as well as practising her English.

I won’t reveal Win’s final results or her key findings, suffice to say she covers aspects such as:

  • gravitational potential energy
  • rotational inertia
  • analysis of wheels with weight vs wheels without weight
  • velocity vs time
  • momentum and acceleration forces
  • the influence of Newton’s first and second law
  • inter-observer variability

We got chatting about her bicycle report after class. I was intrigued. She told me she had selected this project for a college assignment, but that the real focus was to practice her English. She had a great time researching, testing and writing the experiment up – and have gotten a lot out of it in the process.

Bicycle Experiment Report

Here is a copy of Win’s Engineering report on the bicycle experiment she investigated: Win’s Report -Lighter wheels vs heavier wheels experiment

Bicycles being used in tertiary education

I told her I was really impressed, as not many people would think of bicycles as the basis for their assignments. I have previously posted on how zero-gyroscopic bicycles were used to teach Systems Dynamics in the late 1980s and that there are still a few tertiary programs integrating bicycles into the curriculum to more practically explain all manner of complex concepts. We agreed that bicycles are a brilliant way to learn and they should be utilized more in classrooms.

Will bicycles be more prevalent as an educational tool?

I was impressed that Win chose to focus on bicycles for her research paper, for many reasons. Not many engineering students would choose bicycles as their object of study, even less of those I presume would be female and from overseas. From my experience, purely based having to use English, most international students will select a topic that is easier to work with and write about.

I was even more impressed when she brought the paper to class the next week. Although she was a little embarrassed about her English level at the time, she gave me a copy of her paper and permission to upload it here.

The reason I wanted to share Win’s story is that I found her, her paper and the organic way that her bicycle research had come up very encouraging. It made me feel happy that bicycles were the focus of productive education (engineering and English) in ways and places that I didn’t expect. I am sure this goes on all the time (at least I hope it does!), but it was very reaffirming for it to confirmed to me in a totally unexpected way – and in a totally unrelated situation and with a student that I usually would not have been my first pick as being a bike-centered education candidate. It hoped that there were many more of these situation occurring in classrooms around the world.

The irony that she is now in my academic English class and that were bonded over her bicycle-inspired assignment was not lost on me. I love that as a young, female, international Engineering student with no cycling background (she doesn’t even ride a bike) did this topic. I also admire her bravery in giving me a copy and allowing me to share in on this blog.

If you are studying, or have a child or friend who is – perhaps plant the seed by chatting to them about the opportunities and merits of incorporating bicycles into educational settings for greater student engagement and educational/social outcomes.

Student Engineer experiments with bicycles

PhD ECMR submitted

Celebrating my first PhD Milestone!

It has been a year since I started my PhD. This week I am celebrating submitting my first  (of three) PhD Milestones – my Early Candidature Milestone Report (ECMR) – Hooray!

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that there have been a few ups and downs over the last year. This is totally expected in any PhD process and there will be many more to come!

My PhD research investigates NGOs that donate bicycles to rural African girls for greater access to education. Part of the challenge over the last 12 months has been the process of narrowing down and organising my research scope, problem and approach.

To keep up motivation, interest and momentum, required submission dates provide clear structure and help to have a goal (or a few) to work towards.

So to help keep things in perspective and to stay positive while undertaking my PhD, I’m making sure that I take time to adequately recognise and mark objectives achieved and progress made thus far – like today!

Early Candidature Milestone Report – PhD ECMR Submitted

The purpose of Griffith University ECMRs is to:

  • assess whether the candidate has a viable research project and is appropriate for the degree in which the candidate is enrolled.
  • identify whether any further education and training is required to ensure timely completion.
  • identify any resources needed by the candidate to undertake the research.
  • Identify any problems/difficulties that have caused or are likely to cause an impediment to progress.

For my University, there are three major PhD milestones requirements.

  • PhD Commencement
  1. Early Candidature Milestone (12 months part-time)
  2. Confirmation  (18 months part-time – mine is in August, 2017)
  3. Mid-Candidature Milestone (24 months part-time)
  • PhD Submission

What’s in the EMCR?

The outline ECMR  below is for a Masters program – the PhD is the same structure and content, but is more developed – but this gives the general ECMR sections required:

ECMR

Additional celebration – new Principal Supervisor confirmed!

In December, my original Principal Supervisor retired.

This created a bit of a problem for me. It was just before the Christmas break and the Uni was closed for holidays and New Year. Feeling a little nervous about my upcoming ECMR submission, I had to speed dated some academics when Uni reopened to find a new supervisor.

While I was doing this, one of the Professors took me on as my ‘temporary supervisor’ just until I submitted my ECMR. This Prof. was recommended by others for me to approach to be my Principal Supervisor, so having the ‘temporary’ time to work together was a great way to test the waters.

A couple of weeks ago, I told the Prof. that I wanted our current situation to continue and be formalised and that I wanted her to be my Principal Supervisor for the duration of my candidature.

The project scope and research questions are far more refined since we started working together since January. I like the way the Prof. operates with clear and timely communication, actionable advice and logical development.

To my delight, this week Prof agreed to take me on – and will be my Principal Supervisor! Shazam!

ECMR Submitted
Source: PhD Comics